Wednesday, October 23, 2013

AlBee STRONG at World Series

One of the blessings of being a parent is that someday your children inherently acquire the same deep love, loyalty and passion you have for something or someone, be it work, hobbies or holiday traditions.

I say this because my daughter, Damianne, and my oldest son, Drake, will be at Fenway Park for Game One of the World Series tonight and this rite of October pleases me to no end. This represents a split-fingered fastball passing of the torch in our family.  The bridging of a generational gap that now extends from the Summer of Love to the Summer of Twerk.

You see, we are AlBee Strong. We all love the Red Sox. For better. For worse.  Forever.  With or without the Curse of the Bambino, the Bobby Valentine Error or Ducks Dynasty facial hair in all shapes, sizes and shades of grey.

Damianne, who travels the country in the cheerleading industry for Varsity Sports, flew into Providence, R.I. yesterday to conduct a cheerleading clinic after she had driven home to Jacksonville Beach after attending the Clemson-Florida State football game in South Carolina on Saturday night. From Providence, she drove to Boston to pick-up her brother, who took a red-eye flight out of San Francisco via Charlotte on last night after finishing a mid-term at Dominican University of California. Drake (who has a season-ending injury) plays for Dominican’s NCAA Division II men’s soccer team and, as a business major with a minor in sports management, has internships with the Oakland A’s and Golden State Warriors.

Hence, sports are in their blood and, like mine, it pumps though the Red Sox like the news through Ron Burgundy.

This Green Monster-like obsession all started with me in 1967, the “Impossible Dream” year in Boston. Older Red Sox fans still romanticize about that like a Beatles Reunion. It was when the Red Sox Nation as we know it was born and bred throughout New England from Eastport to Block Island when so many fans listened to the Sox on radio that you literally could walk down a city street and not miss the play-by-play account of their games.

Similar to this year, the Red Sox in ’67, led by Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Lonborg, rebounded from an utterly embarrassing 90-loss, next-to-last place season to an incredibly and wonderfully unexpected one. They won the American League pennant on the final day of the regular season at home. Three days later, still hungover from the pandemonium on the field, they faced the St. Louis Cardinals of Bob Gibson and Lou Brock in the World Series.

In those days, all World Series games were played during the day. So school kids, like myself, had to try to sneak a transistor radio (the 60s equivalent of a cell phone) into class with an ear plug to listen to the game. If you weren’t fortunate enough to escape the notice of your teachers as I was behind a strategically well-placed, cover-up open book on your desk, everyone managed to get the score shouted up and down the hallway between classes.

This is when my love affair with the Red Sox started.  Eventually I had a daughter before Bucky Bleepin’ Dent came along and remarried soon after the ball went between Bill Buckner’s legs and had two sons at old Novato Community Hospital following Aaron Boone’s home run off Tim Wakefield in Yankee Stadium.

Along the way my kids inherited my undying love for the Red Sox and unbridled hatred of the Yankees and longed for the day we would all witness Boston winning a World Series in our lifetimes. Thank God, that happened and they savored the significance of me faithfully saving a bottle of Samuel Adams beer for 18 years only to open and drink on such occasion of the first Red Sox World Series championship in 86 years.

So, too, was I fortunate to be a card-carrying member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. With that come three privileges: 1) You get to watch and write about the most talented, gifted players in the game working alongside some of the greatest reporters and people in the press box 2) You get to vote for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. and 3) At the end of each season you are afforded an opportunity to purchase two tickets to the World Series.

In 2004, Damianne and older brother, Dick, attended the first game of the World Series as I watched from the press box at Fenway Park.

In 2007, Drake and youngest son, Brock, skipped school to attend the first two games of the World Series as I watched from the press box at Fenway Park.

Now, in 2013, my two oldest children are flying from thousands of miles away at the last minute to re-unite in Boston to together attend the first two games of the World Series at 101-year-old Fenway Park, the Most Beloved Ballpark in America, now the epicenter for the Fall Classic.

I will watch this one from home with Brock, who has a varsity cross country meet this afternoon. Naturally I wish I could be there in Boston with them, but it makes me so proud knowing my kids are in a cherished place for the game’s greatest event watching their favorite team. My favorite team.

And for that I am blessed.


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